3 science's at GCSE - D of Ed guidance?

(85 Posts)
dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 13:39:31


my son is about to choose his GCSE's and is keen to do 3 separate sciences, rather than the combined science course. However, the school only allows a limited number of children do this (I think this is because they don't have enough places or teachers).

Are there any regulations that i can quote them to encourage them to accept my son? I seem to remember reading somewhere that a school has to provide language GCSEs if a child wants them and was wondering if there's anything similar for science

hatesponge Sat 04-Feb-12 13:52:25

no idea as to the answer sorry but I will be watching this with interest - my son can only do what is referred to as 'triple science' -there are no separate subjects for any of the children at his school.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Feb-12 13:53:41

I think the rules are that every child who achieves level 6 or above in Science at KS3 has the entitlement to study triple science at GCSE.

This quotes the relevant government document.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 13:54:10

Have you had a chat with his science teachers about his performance in Science? I would be very reluctant to go against the school advice. Why does he want to do separate science? What are his current levels in Science?

A friend of mine did triple Science last year. He got A* for the dual award part of the course, and would have ended up with two A*s; but the third module is more challenging (or maybe he stopped putting in the effort, who knows) and he did badly in the third unit. Which brought his grades down to (I think) AAB. In terms of uni applications and 'very able' programme at 6th form, he would have been better off with the two A*s.

My son is doing triple Science and he says there are too many students on the course who are not particularly able or passionate about Science. (His school doesn't select for triple, but leaves it open to all.) They teach dual award separately and he prefers his 'top set' dual award class, to the separate science triple class.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Feb-12 13:54:26

Triple science is the three separate sciences at GCSE.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 13:57:15

Yes, I know. Did my post not make sense? (It is complicated, I know.)

hatesponge Sat 04-Feb-12 13:58:44

I see - when I was at school the less academic children did 'combined' science which I assumed this was. I don't quite understand how it works out from a timetabling point of view though as on DSs option sheet triple science is a 'single' option same as French, IT, etc - hence the confusion on my part.

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 14:00:58

At the school I work at they select students for triple/separate sciences; and they have to have achieved minimum of L6 in Science and Maths by the end of KS3.

(They are taught in a separate class/set with a specialist for all their science lessons. Dual award scientists do not necessarily have a specialist for each subject.)

At my son's school he has 5 lessons a week for the dual award (units/modules 1 and 2), taught by a specialist, in ability sets. They do a block of (say) Biology, then Chemistry, then Physics. Mod 1 at the end of yr10, Mod2 at the end of yr11.

Then in addition he has a separate sciences class for 3 lessons a week (units/module 3s) taught by a specialist. The exams are at the end of yr11.

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:01:42

he had 8 different teachers for science last year and it was so bad that the school was unable to actually provide me with any written report for this subject at all. He is a bright boy and is in the top set for maths, but his previous school (ie last year) estimated that he would get a 'c' at GCSE for science. so yes i will be discussing his performance with the school, but i think its currently a bit clouded by this and the fact that they only have limited places.

noblegiraffe Sat 04-Feb-12 14:03:08

Sorry roisin, my post was aimed at hatesponge not you, but your post appeared in the meantime!

hatesponge, I think that is probably because all students sit double science so that doesn't appear on the options sheet. The option for triple science is the extra science added onto the compulsory double science, rather than all the science that will be taken by that student.

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:03:24

roisin - when is KS3 - what age?

LondonMother Sat 04-Feb-12 14:05:28

I think noblegiraffe might have been correcting hatesponge [fine set of names there!].

This is how I think it works.

Triple science:
Biology module 1 + Biology module 2 + Biology module 3 = Biology GCSE.
Chemistry module 1 + Chemistry module 2 + Chemistry module 3 = Chemistry GCSE.
Physics module 1 + Physics module 2 + Physics module 3 = Physics GCSE.

Very rare to get the opportunity nowadays to do one or two of those and not the third.

Double science:
Biology module 1 + Chemistry module 1 + Physics module 1 = Integrated Science GCSE.
Biology module 2 + Chemistry module 2+ Physics module 2 = Additional Science GCSE.

My son's school said that (a) double science was OK for those planning to do science A levels and (b) two A*s would look better than 3As/Bs (as Roisin said above).

hatesponge Sat 04-Feb-12 14:08:43

noble/roisin, thanks for the clarification, I have been pondering over how it works for days (and concerned over the unfairness of DS doing 3 more subjects than others...!)

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 14:09:54

Dreamingofsun - KS3 traditionally ends at the end of yr9 (after 3 years in secondary school, age 13/14).

But some schools now choose to end KS3 at the end of yr8.

Blimey, education is complicated in this country, isn't it?!

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 14:10:33

Noblegiraffe - Ok, I understand now that you were speaking to hatesponge! grin

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:19:17

roisin - complicated even more by the fact that we have middle schools here - so he's only just started at secondary and is 13./14. looking at the report i did get last year he got 5A - ie in the year he was 12/13 years old.

so is there an argument that as he should get level 6 at the normal KS3 age (ie this year) he should be able to do triple science?

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 14:34:16

noble - your link has some really interesting information

what I'm not clear on is whether this is policy or something the school has to adhere to. Does anyone know? do they have to offer triple science to a pupil who gets level 6 in yr9?

thanks for your help everyone and for such prompt replies

andisa Sat 04-Feb-12 17:46:17

I think you have to weigh up what is the best course option in your school.

My son chose Triple science as the more studious pupils chose it - lots more Science lessons. His teachers were not overly enthusiastic about him taking it as at the time he was not a top scientist of the school.

However, he followed his instinct that the triple route was better for him and is on target for two A* and one A - now one of the top scientists!

In my son's school the best Science teachers or most specialized were put into the triple option as most pupils go on to A' level.

In my experience, as a teacher, Science education can be patchy as keeping or recruiting good staff is a challenge for most schools. My son was lucky with his staff. If it was a bad department, he would have done double Science and Geography.

Niceweather Sat 04-Feb-12 19:17:05

Forgive my ignorance but why do they need to be Level 6 in maths to do the triple science? Do they need to be good at maths for the physics? My son is really into science and already thinks he wants to do the triple science but he struggles a bit with his maths. He's only in Year 7 so there's a long way to go.

dreamingofsun Sat 04-Feb-12 21:15:10

niceweather - if you look at the link and google the doc it says if you have level 6 in science then you should be able to do triple science. its not maths - though some of the material suggests that if you are good at maths it should help your science.

andisa - yes our experience too - 8 teachers in 1 year says it all i think. how do you tell if they are competant science teachers at the school - i have to confess i have major reservations about the school, compared to my oldest sons. i'm sure the teachers don't see me as the easiest of parents as i tend to challenge things, but i can see falling out with them would not help my son

roisin Sat 04-Feb-12 21:25:18

It was me that said that at my school they recommend L6 in Maths as well as L6 in Science, for selection for triple science.

I guess they do it because the Maths will help the Science. But also L6 Maths by the end of yr9 is really not that difficult; it is the 'standard' that Govt expect children to achieve by that point. So if they're not then Maths is a particular weakness, something that could hold them back with their Science. (Science course involves quite a lot of handing data, interpreting graphs, drawing graphs and charts, making calculations, etc.)

(In my boys' school some bright students achieve L6 by the end of the first term in yr7 and L8 by the end of yr8, sometimes even in yr7.)

This year they are doing L6 papers at primary for brighter students aren't they?

babybouncer Sat 04-Feb-12 21:28:54

There may also be other slight complications as in my school the triple science kids get fewer maths lessons in order to fit in extra science lessons, therefore their maths ability is also key.

Personally, I went to a grammar school (selective not private) where all pupils did double science, including many who went on to do science subjects at A Level and university.

In my experience as a sixth form tutor, universities are not really interested in whether an applicant has double or triple, more what their GCSE average was and how they are doing in their specific A Levels.

Finally, the parents we 'know about' at our school - i.e. the ones who complain loudly and not always fairly - do tend to get what they want for their kids. So I wouldn't stop complaining if you feel strongly about something.

CustardCake Sat 04-Feb-12 22:36:30

It used to be that combined or double science wasn't an adequate enough introduction to A Level Physics or Chemistry. The jump for pupils who'd been made to do the double award was much greater (too great) than for those who'd done a triple science option at GCSE.
If your child wants to go onto do A Level Sciences, it is important to look into which GCSE course would be more challenging and a better starting point. Some schools offer the iGCSE in separate Sciences as it is considered to be the most academic one but only for children who are really serious about studying science in future. Invariably anything that involves higher levels of Physics (and to some extent Chemistry) will require a good grasp of mathematics as well. They go hand in hand at higher levels.

dreamingofsun Sun 05-Feb-12 10:37:56

thanks for your help everyone. i feel much more prepared when i go and see the teacher now.

Coconutty Sun 05-Feb-12 10:48:16

DS1 is in the top maths and science set in yr 9 and school are trying to push him into doing triple science rather than combined. He wouldnt mind doing combined + biology, but really doesnt want 11 science lessons a week, which triple would be.

Does it really matter do you think, if he does combined rather than triple? He doesnt know what career he wants yet, maybe architecture but def doesnt want to do science A level.

CustardCake Sun 05-Feb-12 10:58:56

Coconutty - I don't think it matters if he has definitely ruled out sciences at A Level but, if he is in the top set for maths and science, does he have enough other subjects that he is equally good at to choose for A level optiopns later on? Is it the timetabling that worries him or is he (and I say this as a mother of a boy!) looking for an easier option that won't take as much work and that he can coast a bit at?

sodapops Sun 05-Feb-12 11:00:47

DS2 is doing triple science. His school only have about 30 places for this. When he chose his options we were asked to explain why he wanted to do it on the form, and priority was given to those DC who might need triple science in order to do their chose career or uni course. DS2 wants to be a physiotherapist so we put that down. Fortunately there were more places than DC.

Coconutty DS1 was top set for maths and science all through school and did combined science. He didn't want to do any sciences at A level so it made sense for him not to do triple science. I don't think it matters TBH, DS1 got an A* and an A, he wants to be an Army Officer.

Coconutty Sun 05-Feb-12 11:06:40

Thanks, he wants to do geography, Art, DT and PE! Also double english and maths. He said he just doesnt enjoy science enough to do that much of it,Custard, but I do think he may be thinking that its too much hard work. Undecided about ICT.

I think he'll be doing 9 GCSEs in total

I've confused myself reading this thread - do different schools do different things?

DS1 is probably taking triple science. According to the meeting we had with the school last November there is no difference in timetable time between double and triple science (covers 6 blocks) so double is easier partly because it has less work in the same amount of classroom time. I assumed this was the set up in all schools, but now (unless I've got the wrong end of the stick) it seems as if other schools do triple over 9 periods?

Coconutty Sun 05-Feb-12 11:19:00

Triple science is over 11 periods at DS school, combined is over 6, double would be 9.

Wow. I'm going to have to prepare DS1 for an awful lot of homework in that case. I need to look into this, maybe I've misremembered the time it covers but I'm reasonably sure I haven't. Ds1 is sure it's only 6 too.

Coconutty Sun 05-Feb-12 11:26:45

I know for certain that's what DS's school does, we had the options evening last week. It must be done differently in different schools. DS goes to an Independent school if that makes any difference.

gelatinous Sun 05-Feb-12 11:31:38

I always think it's a shame that children who aren't likely to do science A levels are encouraged not to do triple science. If they're able to do well at it they should be encouraged - it's their last chance to learn this stuff and they should take it if possible. On the other hand, bright children who do want to do science A levels should arguably consider diversifying their GCSE choices by choosing an arty subject instead - once they have science A-levels no-one will care if they did double or triple at GCSE and the A-level courses are designed to follow on from the double course - better to show you can do other things too and add another language or humanity to your GCSE selection instead of the extra science imo.

I'm hoping I've got it wrong tbh, that's a big difference!

gelatinous Sun 05-Feb-12 11:49:45

MDTK different schools do do this very differently. More able groups can fit the extra work into the same time lower groups take for the double option, or some schools begin the course in year 9 instead of 10, so fit the extra time in there. Remember too that the lesson length is different at different schools. Science isn't usually too homework intensive however they do it.

GrimmaTheNome Sun 05-Feb-12 11:50:37

>On the other hand, bright children who do want to do science A levels should arguably consider diversifying their GCSE choices by choosing an arty subject instead

Bright children should be able to do the arty subject in addition to triple science if they want. DDs school they all do triple science but they do 11 plus citizenship so they all also do at least one MFL, humanity and tech and there's still time to do art, music, drama if they wish.

gelatinous Sun 05-Feb-12 12:20:39

I was referring to schools where the 'triple'part of the science is timetabled against other options and therefore takes up a GCSE choice rather than where it can be done as an extra Grimma. That is school dependent usually.

roisin Sun 05-Feb-12 12:21:12

At ds1's school they have 5x50 min lesson for the core science (dual award).
If they do triple they have 3 extra lessons. It amounts to nearly 1/3 of their curriculum time.

In other schools top sets do triple with no extra teaching time.

gelatinous Your post reminded me that the school did say that they would be covering part of the Science GCSE courses in Y9 blush I was listening honest, I just have a truly awful memory...

DS1 wants to study Engineering so will have to do Maths and Physics and another Science based A'Level but was seriously considering doing Drama at GCSE - he's definitely decided on Art anyway, but decided on doing an additional foreign language instead. I think he's got a nice mix of subjects, not too biased one way or the other.

andisa Sun 05-Feb-12 14:47:01

To coconutty,

My Head of Science in a grammar school says triple science is not necessary
(even if he were to do A'level science) and some students want a broader spread of GCSEs.

Follow what he is enthusiastic about and he'll do well.

webwiz Sun 05-Feb-12 15:04:02

Ds is in year 10 and triple science isn't an option choice you just do whichever science your group is doing. Out of six science classes, 3 are triple, 2 double and 1 takes the Btec option. They started whichever course they were on after Easter in year 9 and DS does 2 weeks of biology with a specialist teacher and then 2 weeks of chemistry etc etc. (5x50mins in a week). Even when the school only offered double science the top groups still had time to fit in an AS (science in societyhmm) as well. According to a presentation we had at school 67% of DSs year got a level 6 or above in science and most of them seem to be doing the triple.

I think its a shame to make the triple an option choice because certainly DD1 didn't know she would go on to study science at university when she chose her options in year 9.

Coconutty Sun 05-Feb-12 15:21:25

Thanks Andisa, I thought so but didnt want to 'help' him make a decision without checking. It does seem like a lot of science!

Milliways Sun 05-Feb-12 15:27:56

DD did triple science but it was NOT counted as an option. They started by doing and extra class after school each week - but soon dropped that and decided the kids were capable of doing it in the same time allotted to the rest of the year who were taking the double. This meant she still got to choose 4 option subjects - complete free choice with no option blocks! Don't know how such a huge school managed that one (10 form intake).

DS's school is grammar so again they all do triple and then choose 3 + a compulsory MFL.

I agree that 2 A*s are better than say AAB, but also, if you are say rubbish at Chemistry, you could get A* A* C rather than BB if your Chem result brings all the others down.

bigbluebus Sun 05-Feb-12 15:31:05

DS chose Triple Science as one of his options. He does & 7 1/2 hrs science a week (2 wk timetable - 7 hrs one week, 8 hrs the next). At his school they were asked to write down why they had chosen specific options and only those who wanted to follow a science base career were encouraged to choose the Triple option. By choosing this subject, he had one less choice at the other options as this is equvalent of 3 x GCSE's where as combined science is 2 x GCSE's. They were also told it was a very intensive course, hence the need for level 6 in KS3 and I'm sure they need to be good at Maths too (DS in top set doing GCSE 1 yr early).

webwiz Sun 05-Feb-12 15:59:56

That's a lot of science bigbluebus!

DS seems to be doing fine on his 4 hours, I think the further modules (P7, B7 and C7) are challenging but DS is on the 8th of the first 9 modules and none of that has caused any problems. The science itself isn't that difficult the problem comes with the exam technique and the fact that some of the questions seem more like an english comprehension than science but that is a completely different thread smile

busymummy3 Sun 05-Feb-12 17:07:45

I am confused. Is seperate sciences a different paper from additional sciences? My DC does seperate sciences having just done core science -but for core sciences she still was taught the 3 sciences seperately iyswim.
Sorry that I do not know anything about the system but can they not just sit all the modules for each of the sciences then at the end decide whether to put in for an additional science GCSE or a GCSE in each seperate science then you would know whether it is better to go for 2x A* or aab? Sorry if I am not explaining myself properly or what Ive put sounds silly!

busymummy3 Sun 05-Feb-12 17:14:01

BTW my DC has Biology 70 minutes per week Chemistry 70 mins per week and Physics 70 mins per week and every week there is a 70 minute lesson of science where it will be biology physics or chemistry on a rota

gelatinous Sun 05-Feb-12 17:16:29

It works slightly differently on different exam boards busymummy. In order to do 3 separate sciences you need to do more science papers than to get 2 GCSEs in science and additional science, but on some boards (eg AQA) it would be possible to sit all the papers as you describe and then certificate the most favorable 2 or 3 GCSEs as you wished (though it would be rather a waste of the extra work done for the separate sciences part not to use it). On other boards (eg OCR) you have to decide at the start which option you are doing as although the two options have a lot of syllabus in common the way the exams are structured is different. This will all change from 2014 onwards when all the exams will have to be sat at the end of the course at the same time as they are certificated (I think).

asiatic Sun 05-Feb-12 18:30:35

double science is fine for virtually anything ( as long it is core and additional, NOT applied). There is no reason to to triple, it is another case of the school putting children in for something that looks good on the league table, rather than benefits the child. Most schools will allow some of the most able to do triple, but it isn't really a case of "they don't have the staff", more that there are very very few students who would genuinky benefit.

Busymummy, your suggestion isn't silly at all, but impossible with the current specs. You need to know which module you are studying for before you start, and there is not a lot of overlap between, for example, a biology GCSE, and the biology component of core science GCSE. All modules are now disbanded now anyway.

webwiz Sun 05-Feb-12 19:40:37

I would have thought that making the majority of pupils do the double and saving the triple for the select few would be for benefit of league tables rather than the other way round.

dreamingofsun Mon 06-Feb-12 08:32:59

asiatic - in my younger sons school i believe it is a case of 'they don't have the staff'. Why otherwise would there be only 90 places for triple science?

One of the reasons for doing triple, according to the report in nobles link, is that they are at a disadvantage when they take science A levels otherwise. And this would seem logical since they would have done less of that subject in the previous 2 years

circular Mon 06-Feb-12 13:37:38

DD1 14 (yr10) went for the triple, and so far is the best choice she could have made. She is NOT a straight A student, school steers all of top sets into triple when chosing options, but they do get the option to move down a pathway and take double. They also insist on at least level 6a in Maths & Science as well as 5a in English.

Pros are - Specialist teachers, separate grades for each subject (she ended yr 9 working at a B overall, is currently working at A*/A for Physics, A for Chemistry and B/C for Biology), an extra academic GCSE.

The only con we can think of is loss of another option choice. Alhough for her, that would have been drama or catering. She has managed to include Ebacc subjects (Geography & French) but not a technology as Music was not negotiable.

So can be a good choice if reasonble at science, and struggling to find other academic options to suit. And if there is a significant in-balance between expected grades in the three sciences.

gelatinous Mon 06-Feb-12 14:08:05

dreamingofsun it could be staff, or possibly laboratory availability (although you would think they could timetable some science lessons in ordinary classrooms they don't always like to do this) or even just an arbitrary limit.

Good luck with your battle - wanting to do sciences is one of the best reasons for doing them in my opinion. He's far more likely to succeed at a subject he enjoys and has chosen than another that he doesn't enjoy and has been told he has to do instead. Do you definitely know the school only want him to take double or are you guessing that at the moment? Let us know how you get on.

dreamingofsun Mon 06-Feb-12 15:04:16

gelatinous - i'm guessing. i will know on thurs. i'm told they only have 90 slots for 16 classes of children - so i imagine they are going to be rationing them. my son narrowly missed going to the grammar and is in top maths set, but unfortunately had 6-8 science teachers last year - we lost track in the end - so is in middle set now as i imagine he didn't get especially good exam results and got 5a in his teacher assessment at year 8.

the other alternative is to encourage him to consider history or psychology which would widen his options. its such a hard choice. agree with you....he's got to want to do the subjects

Quattrocento Mon 06-Feb-12 15:10:30

My DCs aren't allowed to do anything other than triple science. Better preparation for A level (if they want to do science a levels, that is).

Can you establish why they only allow only a few to do triple science? Can your DS get into the select few by working really hard this year?

bluesky Mon 06-Feb-12 15:10:53

my ds spent year 10 doing core science (all 3 taught separately by different science teachers) and is now doing additional science in year 11, taught in the same way. He will then have 2 GCSEs.

He has the ability to do the triple, but hasn't ever really enjoyed science, and isn't going in a science direction for his a levels, so he was advised to stick to doing it this way.

dreamingofsun Mon 06-Feb-12 15:15:52

quattro - form has to be in by march so not really enough time. at my oldest son's they all had to do triple science, but unfortunately youngest very narrowly missed getting grades for there.

to be honest i hate this school. my middle son is also there and has done very badly. if i trusted the teachers it would help - but i don't overall.

cristo Tue 07-Feb-12 14:53:10

Woohoo, thank you Roisin, that's so helpful.

dreamingofsun Fri 10-Feb-12 11:33:22

gelatinous - you asked for feedback on how we got on. Basically they only have a limited number of places for triple science as they can't fit any further places into the curriculum (please dont ask me to explain this - at my other son's school they all have to do 3 sciences and they manage to teach it to 150 kids). so it depends how many other kids want to do it. i wish i had known this when we chose the school as it would have made me consider the other option more closely.

are you in education? the french teacher said that they had to have a modern language gcse to go to uni. this is news to me and i can't spot any courses that stipulate this on the uni websites. is this correct?

gelatinous Sat 11-Feb-12 11:53:19

dreamingofsun a very long time ago you needed a modern foreign language to go to Oxford or Cambridge which meant that many selective schools insisted on students taking one and many other schools did too for their upper sets. Both universities abolished that requirement eons ago and there followed a gradual decline in language take up at GCSE with many children/schools preferring to take/offer perceived easier subjects. Just recently there has been a swing back towards languages with the government including a language in the ebacc and UCL requiring a modern language GCSE for entry to all their degree courses details here. It's not a hard requirement in that you can take a language course when there instead, but they quite probably will favour applicats who do have a language unless there are good plausible reasons for not taking one (eg school doesn't offer it). As far as I know UCL is the only university with this requirementat the moment, so your french teacher isn't entirely right, but there is some suspicion that more universities may follow suit and require ebacc as an entry requirement in the future, but my opinion is that if they were to do this they would be morally obliged to give at least 4 years notice so that children choosing GCSEs knew what they might be closing the door to at the time of making their choices. It still might be safer to take a language though in my opinion - they are not as difficult as they used to be.

I hope your ds gets his science choice - did the school say how over subscribed it usually is and how they make the choices if it is? I can't help thinking if you keep persistantly asking them awkward questions like this and pointing out that the disrupted science education they've given him so far has disadvantaged him in the selection criteria (if it has) that your ds will be more likely to be chosen for the triple option than if you just wait and see.

I'm not in education, although I have been a science teacher in the past. I'm just interested in how these things work.

dreamingofsun Sat 11-Feb-12 13:16:39

gelatinous - thanks for feedback - your 4 years notice comments seem sensible. not too concerned about ucl and top rung unis..i think he will be going to the rung under that. i can't help but think its better to have an A/B in history than a D in french...but i'll see what the other french teacher says.

ref science - last year they had correct number of applicants. if oversubscribed they choose the ones with the highest grades - he's 1 point off what he needs. 'disrupted science previous year was irrelevant and they couldn't be seen to be treating him any differently or all kids at his school would ask for the same treatment' was their comment. its based on performance now and results of tests - my argument here is that he's in middle set as result of previous year and hence he's working at middle set standards. so we'll see. if they said to me he wasn't good enough i'd be less frustrated and get him to do something else - but that doesn't seem to be the case and he was forecast a 'c' last year even with the appalling teaching.

MigratingCoconuts Sat 11-Feb-12 13:29:40

As a science teacher I would say:

1. No, students with a level 6 do not have to be offered triple science.

2. Yes, school's do this differently. Some offer triple as an extra option choice (thus reducing the range of GCSE's you can take). some take it as part of the same alloted time as the double and have to work faster through it.

3. No, doing the double award does not limit your choices at A level. I have not noticed any disadvantage. Its the quality of the grade you get that counts and not the number of GCSEs you have.

dreamingofsun Sat 11-Feb-12 13:40:32

migrating - his teachers said it did limit you a bit in 1 of the 3 sciences when i asked and a gov report i was reading - link towards top of these also says that. its extra lessons - so logically if you are doing more of something you usually get better at it surely?

thanks for your first point. was thinking this might be the case, but good to have it confirmed.

think that choosing GCSE's might be an art rather than a science!!

MigratingCoconuts Sat 11-Feb-12 13:53:44

In my experience it doesn't.

When the A level courses were written the vast majority of schools didn't offer triple because of timetable constraints. Those that did tended to try to teach it in the same time frame for a double. This produced a large number of students with a very fleeting, shallow understanding of the concepts covered.
Whereas those that did the double had a more in depth understanding of fewer science concepts.

Looking at the A2 scores two years later, you really couldn't tell who had done double and who had done triple.

More schools get round the problem by offering triple as an option but I still don't think it makes any difference as to how easy or hard students find the A level.

dreamingofsun Sat 11-Feb-12 14:46:22

migrating - thats interesting. so if all fails and he can't do triple, he should still be ok to do science at 'a' level. thankyou

paranoidparent Wed 04-Jul-12 16:05:55

I'm gutted. D/S has achieved (at KS3 summer 2012) a 7A in Science, 8B in Maths, and in English 6B overall (7C for comprehension 6B for writing and 6C for speaking and listening). The school (a state school with a good reputation) has decided he is "borderline" to be accepted for triple science because of his English score. They seem to think he might not have the English skills needed for the science exam papers? What does Shakespeare, poetry, descriptive prose, alliteration etc.etc. have to do with it? Scientific language and report writing is specific, where brevity is always an advantage. What is going on?

mummytime Wed 04-Jul-12 16:25:02

Okay. At my DCs school you do triple or double in the same amount of lesson time. So only the top sets are offered triple, and anyone can choose to drop down to double (slightly slower pace and slightly less homework). DD is in a bright year so 3 tops sets (each side of the school) will start it, probably depends on how many opt out. They will also encourage those struggling to drop down to double.
More people do A'level Biology for example from Double Science than triple.

You can't do Core and Additional and stand alone Biology at the same exam sitting, because their is too much overlap. This will still be the case without modules, it will be a prescribed exam combination. Even if you do them at separate sittings most colleges, employers etc. would only count it as 2 GCSEs at most.

As for A'level it does also depend on which A'levels he wants to do. I would ask for a copy of the sixth form prospectus to check. For Physics at DCs school you need B at GCSE (Core and additional) but also B in Maths.

Kez100 Wed 04-Jul-12 18:41:57

We were told that, generally, children get lower grades for triple than they do double. So, if he is predicted C in double, maybe they think he will struggle to get a decent grade in Triple.

Do think about WHY he wants to do triple. Makes sure it isn't just that it sounds better. Make sure there is good reason and that he is happy to (probably) dedicate 7.5 curriculum hours a week to science and give up an option block.

Kez100 Wed 04-Jul-12 18:45:13

Re English - Science papers are now including extended answers - up to 6 marks per question, in some cases. The Science papers are changing considerably and I don't think the schools are being given enough information. They will want to protect children from starting a. Course which, later, it proves they are finding tough to secure decent grades in. I think most schools are expecting Science results to drop and not because of teaching but because the exam boards have said they will be tougher to pass. The Government are demanding it.

TheFallenMadonna Wed 04-Jul-12 18:54:38

What MigratingCoconuts said...

We accept students from Triple and Core and Additional onto A level courses, and they are equally well prepared really. But we are geared up for it.

When we are setting, we need to have a multiple of a class size for each of the different pathways (we do Triple, Core and Additional, BTEC and Entry Level Certificate).

GetDownNesbitt Wed 04-Jul-12 22:13:02

I must be overtired, as ac spent ages wondering what the Duke of Edinburgh had to do with Science options...

BackforGood Wed 04-Jul-12 23:42:34

MrsDTK My ds has just finished his GCSEs. In his school they did what I think your school are talking about. You have the same amount of Science timetables if you do BTEC, double or triple. The more able children can get the 3 sep subjects in the time it takes the more steady to do the double. It doesn't take up one of their 'options' so they can still do other things they want to do. However they do move along at a faster pace, obviously, so the pupils have to have demonstrated they are capable/ willing to do this, so it's not something you can 'opt' in to if you haven't been getting good grades in the previous year.

NoComet Sat 07-Jul-12 00:04:26

I hate this system, DD1 is a natural at science, but not in the top set, set (2) and L6 (no sub levels reported)

She wants to study science at university and is really worried she'll miss the triple science set by about one place.

Hopefully they will tell us by the end of term, but the whole thing is about as clear as mud.

Dyslexic and a massive cock up over her maths ability so she started in set 3.
She has just got level 7 for maths.

I'm am not being PFB when I say she can cope with triple science. She has two adult exam passes in scientific hobbies to her name. In one she got a better mark than both the much older candidates and even got 1 mark more than her Dad (DH is idiotically clever and she is very smug about this).

GrimmaTheNome Sat 07-Jul-12 00:25:21

paranoid, star - that's so wrong. Someone who is good at science and maths but weaker at English or dyslexic should arguably be encouraged to do triple science as they're likely to do better with that than the other options (MFL, humanities). I've a friend who was severely dyslexic - he really struggled to write coherent English so his PhD thesis and writing scientific papers was extremely difficult for him but he was a bloody genius at what he did. I think he'd scraped an O-level English, and could no more have done an MFL than fly so (in the bad old days) oxbridge lost out on a brilliant scientist. (he's a researcher in a cambridge institute now so last laugh to him).

Just looking prescriptively at levels doesn't do these children justice.

NoComet Sat 07-Jul-12 00:37:57

I've talked to her teacher, she will not tell me. The groups are not finalised, but they say the new exams have lots of writing.

I hope it will all get sorted out, but having to wait is upsetting DD1, who is usually pretty laid back.

I'm mildly dyslexic and have a postgrad science degree. I'd have got a D- for French.

mummytime Sat 07-Jul-12 06:53:27

I would have been furious if my DS (may have scraped his English GCSE, we'll see in August) had not been allowed to do Triple Science, they were his best chance for 3 GCSEs (probably A, A* and B) along with Maths. He has had the use of a computer for his exams which has helped, but there are plenty of gifted scientists who struggle with English.

lelly88 Sat 07-Jul-12 11:38:23

Another mum of dyslexic DS here he was streamed bottom set in yr 7 due to his English problems. Took easier maths exam in yr 7 but same science exam as all streams. Sets came into play in yr 8. Was moved to set 3 on the strength of his science result (unable to compare maths as the lower maths exam put him 176 in yearangry).
To cut a long story short he is in Yr 9 top boy in his now set 1 class for maths and has chosen triple science option after excellent science exam results -still awaiting confirmation on acceptance.
English and RE subjects are the only ones which are a bit sad. He believed himself to be the dumbest in primary school, he is so not. Cats scored high for NV and Quant
were ignored, Ed Psych moved in and talked about disability discrimination concerning his low setting in English which encompassed humanities and languages in the same set. They moved him to set 3 but she wanted him in set 2, his results are highest of the set 3 kids he's desperate to get away from certain factions in that set so has worked his butt off so fingers crossed for him.
Any way check out the disability act code of practice for schools. It states that children with disabilities should be treated favourably.
Sorry if that's long winded as I'm still angry about most of his treatment at school.

paranoidparent Sat 07-Jul-12 16:45:58

It's all about SPaG (spelling and grammar) Ofqual advised the Secretary of State to implement its recommendations. see link below


4.50 When young people compete for jobs and enter the workplace, they will be expected to communicate precisely and effectively so we think that changes in the last decade to remove the separate assessment of spelling, punctuation and grammar from GCSE mark schemes were a mistake. We have asked Ofqual to advise on how mark schemes could take greater account of the importance of spelling, punctuation and grammar for examinations in all subjects.

(DfE White Paper 2010, The Importance of Teaching)

paranoidparent Sat 07-Jul-12 17:11:24

My understanding is this: that the triple science pathway is vital if sciences are chosen for A level. Double award is fine if science is not going to be taken at A level. The report below states:
3.9.1 Most teachers felt that Triple Award was the best foundation for the study of A Level Science subjects because of its depth of coverage.

3.8.1 Most teachers said that the main disadvantage of Double Award was that it was not
the most appropriate foundation for the study of A Level Science subjects.

3.8.2 Because bridging courses were required for Double Award pupils, teachers said that
there was a lack of time to cover the syllabus, to consolidate learning and to revise.

3.8.7 The mathematical content in Double Award was said by some teachers to be
inadequate for those who progressed to the study of science at A Level.

The Transition from GCSE Science to GCE A Level Science: A Report by The Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum,Examinations and Assessment (see link)


LeeCoakley Sat 07-Jul-12 17:25:57

I can't believe there isn't enough time to cover the syllabus! If the syllabus has changed so much that double students haven't covered the basics for A-level then ALL students need to be given the CHOICE of taking the triple if they want to do science(s) post 16. Schools can't play God and destroy someone's career choices at 15! A few years ago the double was good enough for A-levels (Dd2 got a B in A-level Biology in 2010 having only taken the double) and I hope dd3's school are just as sensible. I hope it's not league tables that are behind all this.

LeeCoakley Sat 07-Jul-12 17:26:50

I've never heard of 'bridging courses' hmm

TheFallenMadonna Sat 07-Jul-12 17:44:10

No bridging course required. Triple Science has breadth rather than depth.

paranoidparent Sat 07-Jul-12 17:49:42

Bridging courses: This is the web definition:

"Course to enable you to achieve the required level of assumed knowledge needed for admission in a particular academic program"

Sounds a bit pompous, seems to be short courses run by many UK educational institutions, often during the holidays? Extra study to get you up to scratch would be my best guess.

paranoidparent Sat 07-Jul-12 18:19:51

Just to go back to dreamingofsun's original post.
The "Science and innovation investment framework 2004-2014: next steps" report, see link below (and open the PDF). states:

"An entitlement from 2008 for all pupils achieving at least level 6 at Key Stage 3 to study three separate science GCSEs to increase progression to, and attainment at, A level science"

Yet, my D/S's school want a minimum of 6B at Science, Maths, and English to do triple science. Other UK schools seem to want different KS3 levels, some want Level 7 for science, others stipulate Level 5 for English, most don't mention English, it's a disparate mess!
Seems each school can choose its own entry level for triple science despite the above apparent "entitlement".


GrimmaTheNome Sat 07-Jul-12 21:36:11

>4.50 When young people compete for jobs and enter the workplace, they will be expected to communicate precisely and effectively

My friend does - he writes the most stunning scientific algorithms. Yes, it makes life a lot easier if the English comes easily to you but it is not the be all and end all for a scientist. And as I pointed out - if this sort of child isn't allowed to do triple science, what will they have to do instead? Most other subjects require a greater balance of language skills, not less.

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